The Funk Files – Meet Rotem Izhaki


The Funk Files: Embroidery Frontiers

Every year, Hand & Lock organizes a competition for the prestigious Prize for Embroidery to promote the use of hand embroidery and to discover emerging embroidery talent. The 2020 brief, “The Poetics of Colour,” invited entrants to use colour as a fundamental component of the design process, employing inventive embroidery and textures that enhance and enrich or contradict and counter the colour choices.

Today we’ll meet the first-place winner in the Student Fashion Category, Rotem Izhaki.

Location: Tel-Aviv, Israel
School: Senior student at Shenkar College of Engineering and Design
Instagram: @rotemizhaki

Meet Rotem Izhaki
Meet Rotem Izhaki

The Competition

Rotem’s contest design emphasizes the contrast and transition of life and death, flow and stillness, using dark and vivid colors of flowers. Describe your Hand & Lock entry and the inspiration behind it:

I had heard about the contest from my school’s fashion department, and the works I saw from recent years amazed me. I love and appreciate embroidery and hand crafts, and thought it would be a good opportunity to try and develop in these fields through the competition. I decided to enroll and worked on my project during the summer vacation. I chose a concept, made some sketches and fabric developments, and started embroidering. The type of embroidery I chose to use was very intuitive and without a strict structure, so the design was in process as long as I embroidered.

I felt very excited with every stage I passed, which gave me confidence to the next stage.

Embroidered and smocked shirt, by Rotem Izhaki, First-place winner, Student Fashion Category, Hand & Lock Prize for Embroidery
Embroidered and smocked shirt, by Rotem Izhaki, First-place winner, Student Fashion Category, Hand & Lock Prize for Embroidery
Embroidered and smocked shirt, by Rotem Izhaki, First-place winner, Student Fashion Category, Hand & Lock Prize for Embroidery
Embroidered and smocked shirt, by Rotem Izhaki, First-place winner, Student Fashion Category, Hand & Lock Prize for Embroidery

Are there any secrets you can now reveal about your entry?

The top I embroidered to the competition was the first completed piece I have ever embroidered. I had a basic-level embroidery course in Shenkar, and the rest I learned from YouTube videos.

Custom fabric designed and made by Rotem Izhaki
Custom fabric designed and made by Rotem Izhaki

Past

What made you want to study fashion and textiles in school?

When I was 5 years old, I started playing violin. Afterwards I studied at a music academy school, that exposed me to different composers that lived in various historical periods. Beyond the music, I was attracted in the clothing and style of each period, especially to the richness of each garment. Since then, I am fascinated about fashion and it was clear to me that I would like to study fashion design in the future.

Running stitches along the pleat pattern, by Rotem Izhaki
Running stitches along the pleat pattern, by Rotem Izhaki
Gathered pleats, by Rotem Izhaki
Gathered pleats, by Rotem Izhaki

Present

My job in The Funk Files is to interview “pioneers on the embroidery frontier.” That’s you! What is the embroidery frontier, and what does it mean to be a pioneer here?

I feel that nowadays there is a massive amount of clothes but poor appreciation for them. For me, being a pioneer in the world of fashion and embroidery means giving the garments a special value, while embroidery shows attention to details and expresses the story of the garment’s long process of creation.

I aspire to design clothes that will excite people due to their uniqueness, attention to details and effort-invested on making them, and I hope that an embroidered piece will have a longer life in the wearer’s closet.

Embroidering the pleated fabric, Rotem Izhaki
Embroidering the pleated fabric, Rotem Izhaki
Embellishing the smocking with embroidered flowers, Rotem Izhaki
Embellishing the smocking with embroidered flowers, Rotem Izhaki

Future

What projects are on the horizon for you?

I am now working on my graduation collection at school which includes embroidery, knitting and lots of handcrafts (of course).

Flower detail, French knots and beads, Rotem Izhaki
Flower embroidery, close, Rotem Izhaki
Flower embroidery, close, Rotem Izhaki

Tip

What one piece of advice would you offer someone who wants to create art?

Learn to be honest and listen to yourselves. In my perspective, design is a field of decision making – there are lots of possible paths and the designer needs to decide which one of them to take every time. It is not necessary that everyone would like your decisions, because it is very personal. But I believe that if you create from your internal world, it will be unique and complete, and will be appreciated for what it is and not for what people want it to be.

Tennis outfit, by Rotem Izhaki
Tennis outfit, by Rotem Izhaki
Tennis outfit, by Rotem Izhaki
Tennis outfit, Rotem Izhaki

Rapid-fire Round: (Don’t think too hard about these.)

A book you’ve enjoyed recently: Sapiens, a Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Noah Harari

You must include something scented in your next piece. What do you use, and how do you incorporate it? Knit with natural flowers

If you were not an artist, what would you be? Musicologist

You are making lunch for the artist of your choice—and she/he/zie will love it. Who is the artist, and what are you making for lunch? I will make pancakes for Tchaikovsky

Do you save the best for last? Always

Tennis skirt, Rotem Izhaki
Tennis skirt, Rotem Izhaki

A studio is remaking a movie, and they want you to design the costumes. What is the movie, and what is your favorite costume in it? Angelina Jolie, train scene in The Tourist

You must create a garment or accessory for an animal. What is the animal, and what do you create? Turtle neck sweater for a turtle

You can shop for free at one store. What store do you choose? The RealReal

A celebrity wears something you’ve made to an awards show, and you receive fame, fortune, good health, fitness, and cake for life. Who is the celebrity and what does s/he wear? Kiera Knightley, evening dress and a sweater

What was the best gift you gave someone? Redecorated my boyfriend’s office

Thank you, Rotem!

Jen Funk Weber

Jen Funk Weber is Queen of Funk & Weber Designs, a cross stitch and counted-thread embroidery designer and teacher dedicated to stitchy explorations and adventures.

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